Ankara wouldn’t mind it if Russia used the Incirlik airbase for its anti-terror missions against Islamic State terrorists in Syria, Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim hinted on Saturday, but acknowledged that no such requests have been made.
Islamic State, Syria unrest, Syria-Turkey
“Turkey opened Incirlik airbase to fight Daesh [Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL] terrorists. It is being used by the US and Qatar. Other nations might also wish to use the airbase, which the Germans are also now using,” Yildirim told reporters on Saturday, as quoted by Anadolu news.
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“If necessary, the Incirlik base can be used,” the PM said when asked if Moscow could share the airfield as well. At the same time, he firmly denied recent media reports claiming that Moscow has been pressuring Turkey to lease Incirlik to the Russian air force, saying “this information is not correct.”
Amid unsubstantiated reports that Washington might be moving its nuclear arsenal out of Turkey and into Romania, which Bucharest has already denied, Izvestia Daily fueled the rumors by reporting that Russia might soon move into the Turkish base.
Given the recent rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara, the Russian publication cited upper house member Igor Morozov as saying that “it just remains to come to an agreement with Erdogan that we get the NATO base at Incirlik as [our] primary airbase.” According to the MP, Incirlik would give Moscow a strategic advantage and provide for a swifter conclusion to Russia’s anti-terrorist operation in Syria.
Meanwhile, Yildirim expressed doubt that Moscow would actually need to use the Turkish airbase, pointing out that Russia’s forces already have two local airbases from which to launch missions in Syria, and that being 100-150 kilometers closer to their targets would not provide any strategic advantage.